UB retains ‘Gold’ designation with higher ed sustainability organization

Release Date: February 20, 2019

Graphic of the STARS Gold Rating seal.
“Simply put, sustainability at UB is focused on building a better world for future generations.”
Satish K. Tripathi, president
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo is “Gold” again when it comes to sustainability.

UB received the designation after filing its latest Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report.

“Simply put, sustainability at UB is focused on building a better world for future generations,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. “We are committed to creating sustainably literate leaders through our teaching, research and engagement.”

A program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

More than 900 colleges and universities around the world file the report, typically every three years. Participating institutions can compile up to 100 points across five categories — Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning and Administration and Innovation and Leadership — to earn one of the following designations: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, reporter.

UB improved upon its 2015 score, accumulating 69.58 points. A gold rating is awarded to any institution that achieves a minimum overall score of 65. Only five institutions have achieved platinum, which requires a minimum score of 85: Colorado State University; Stanford; Thompson Rivers University (Canada); University of California, Irvine; and the University of New Hampshire.

UB’s score maintains its status as a sustainability leader in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, along with the University at Albany — with which UB peer-reviewed its latest STARS submission — and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

At more than 260 pages, UB’s STARS report doubles as an in-depth look at sustainability at the university and a roadmap for the next several years that equips every unit on campus with data that shows how UB can continue to move the needle. Nearly 100 individuals and departments from across the university contribute to the report.

“This report provides the university with a foundation for how to think more strategically about how we move forward,” said Laura Hubbard, UB’s vice president for finance and administration.

The STARS report identifies areas in which UB excels, and where there’s room for improvement. UB fares well in its sustainability-oriented research. For example, nearly one-quarter of the university’s faculty are engaged in sustainability research. It also earns high marks in public engagement, thanks to strong community partnerships — including the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable, the One Region Forward initiative and the Western New York Environmental Alliance — as well as collaboration across campuses.

On the operations side, UB accumulated nearly all of the available points in the subcategory on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for new or renovated buildings certified under a green building rating system.

STARS also measures a university’s diversity and affordability, and UB scored highly in this combined subcategory, earning 8.4 out of 10 points.

UB also scored highly in sustainable dining through such offerings as low environmental impact dining events and local harvest dinners, in addition to the availability of “made in/grown in” New York vending machines on campus, and outreach through the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab in the School of Architecture and Planning.

Each university’s full submission, including UB’s, is available on the STARS website.

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